"Hello, Vag, glad to see you. Nice vacation?"
"Yeah, swell, thanks." Or had it been? The Vagabond plowed on through the snow, clean because it was almost as newly-arrived in Cambridge as Vag was. On December 17 he had taken the train for New York, two days early, looking forward to the usual gay, and liquid round. But it hadn't been the same; the old gang wasn't there and every girl Vag met knew some neat guy fighting in the Pacific, which made him feel sharply his own unheroic role. Maybe he ought to join the air corps right away and get sent to the Philippines. "Vag send Jap bomber down in flames"; that would look great in a headline. But that wouldn't do President Conant and some Deans whose names he couldn't remember had said that students should stay at their books and preserve freedom of thought and the academic tradition and all that.
After a few parties Vag was getting thoroughly depressed. He never had been one to pep up a party, and nobody else seemed inclined to do anything about the pall over the festivities. On the night before Christmas he sat at home and read about Scrooge and Marley and Tiny Tim, but it didn't make him feel any better. Neither did the radio version of the Bible story about the star in the East and peace on earth, good will to men. Before, Christmas had always been a lovely mixture of candlelight and fir trees, beautiful organ music and soft snow falling, and dances where Vag saw all of his old friends, home for the vacation.
The Vagabond slipped on the icy sidewalk and nearly sprawled.
Well, after all, he had been prepared for the war, hadn't he? The headlines and speeches and buttons and proclamations had brought it closer and closer; everybody had seen it coming. He might have known the vacations would change, like all else. He would have to change, too, would Vag; he'd develop a stern and realistic attitude and wear a V pin and make sacrifices, because everyone else was. What could he do to help--take a First Aid course maybe, or donate a pint of blood? Brrr! He didn't like the idea of a big, thick needle jabbed in his arm. But here it was--brave new year, brave new Vag; Vag and Victory both start with the same letter. Vag would change, Vag would sacrifice.
"Hey-y Vag!" He looked up and saw his roommate leaning out of the window. "Let's go to Dirty's and have a milkshake; I'll come right down." Vag stood waiting, kicking the crust off the snow. Dirty Mary's hadn't changed, anyhow, reading period hadn't, notes from the Dean's office hadn't and the U.T. hadn't. Things would go on, he reflected; we'd just have to put on a little more pressure. What was it Sir Francis Drake had said--something like "We'll have our milkshake at Dirty's and lick the Japs too!"